One man band projects – bedroom bands in essence – are a different breed these days.
It used to be they were fizzy, raw, but intriguing.
Now they’re epics of djent; tomes of crunch.
This one, from Lisburn’s The Rupal Face, aka John Wilson, is even more thorough than many of the others that have surfaced over the years, rounding on everything from gothic tinkles to 16bit computer game music.
As is often the case with this emerging style, Opeth’s guitar presence is in here, alongside Stephen Wilson’s more metal elements of Porcupine Tree – and, of course, Dream Theater. So as ‘Sublimation’ begins, it’s with that familar kind of ‘Ghost Reveries’-era brood.
Right away the drum programming is hugely impressive. Only the cymbal sounds let it down. The beats themselves are arresting in their variety, particularly when it speeds into the blastbeat.
There are no vocals here, but they’re not missed in the slightest. This is instrumental music done right, with twists and turns aplenty. None of your quiet to crescendo predictability here.
Standout track ‘The Reveal’ is plain jaw dropping for the work of one person. In here we’ve a mix of Tesseract, late period Dream Theater, ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ P. Tree and much else besides.
What impresses me most – apart from the fantastically lifelike drum programming – is the control of the guitar. It just doesnt sound like an amateur. It’s polished, the harmonies are well chosen and the lead lines are unfussy and solid without being showy.
The variety of keyboard textures as well is a delight. ‘Apertures’ for example opens with some 80’s style Terminator sounds before diving headlong into Dream Theater guitar (and indeed some Jordan Rudess bluebeard keyboard macro-noodle).
Does it owe too much to its influences? Yes, probably, on this track more than any. It’s straightout homage. But it’s darn good.
On the downside, ‘The Deluge’, closing up, is a bit much. Nice the way it starts like Vangelis and all, but it’s too self indulgent by half.
The artwork also completely lets the music down. It needs changed pronto.
To hear this however is to be agog at the work that must have gone into it. I can only imagine what the (many) timelines look like on the computer screen. How many VST instruments must have been involved, and the hours it must have taken.
John can congratulate himself that the project was worth it. It’s an incredibly satisfying piece of work, and indeed one that deserves significant recognition.
Will he go on to do sound design somewhere, or does this have a future as a live metal concern? Who knows. Whatever, this is brilliant.
– Earl Grey ::: 21/09/16